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Controlling the supramolecular architecture of molecular gels with surfactants
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jingyu Chen, B Yuan, Zhenyu Li, Bin TangBin Tang, Elizabeth AnkersElizabeth Ankers, Xungai Wang, Jingliang LiJingliang Li
Manipulating molecular assembly is significant for achieving materials with desirable performances. In this paper, two nonionic surfactants, Span 20 and Triton X-100, are used to tune the nucleation and fiber growth of a molecular gelator 2,3-di-n-decyloxyanthracene (DDOA). Confocal microscopic images show that Span 20 induces elongation of DDOA spherulites, and promotes fiber side branching. In contrast, Triton X-100 enhances the primary nucleation of DDOA leading to the formation of smaller DDOA spherulites, and promotes fiber tip branching. (1)H NMR investigation demonstrates strong interactions between the hydrophobic tails of the surfactants and the alkyl chains of DDOA molecules.The interactions significantly reduce the diffusion of DDOA molecules. The different effects of the two surfactants could be attributable to their different alkyl hydrophobic tails. The hydrophobic tail of Span 20 is similar to the alkyl chain of DDOA, which could promote the adsorption of Span 20 on the fiber side surface rich in alkyl chains of DDOA.While the benzene ring in the hydrophobic tail of Triton X-100 could facilitate the primary nucleation of DDOA and the adsorpion of Triton X-100 on the fiber tip surface rich in aromatic structure of DDOA. The observations of this work will help the development of a convenient approach to tune the fiber network structure of molecular gels.